USA: DENMARK'S FOREIGN MINISTER SAYS SHE WILL URGE U.S. STATES NOT TO USE DANISH PENTOBARBITAL
April 12, 2011: Denmark's foreign minister says she will urge U.S. states such as Texas and Ohio to stop using a drug in lethal injections that is produced by a Danish company.
Lene Espersen says she cannot take direct action against the company since the drug, pentobarbital, is not exported from Denmark but produced by a plant in the U.S. state of Kansas that is owned by Denmark's Lundbeck A/S.
Since late last year, Pentobarbital has been used in the U.S. for lethal injections. Denmark, as is the case with the rest of Europe, is against the death penalty.
Espersen has been asked by a left-wing opposition group if Denmark could find a way of stopping some U.S.states from using the drug in its executions.
"I have no possibility to take direct action at American states' use of the product for executions, but I will also contact these states through the Danish Embassy in Washington with a call to cease using pentobarbital," Espersen said in a letter posted on Parliament's Web site April 12.
In Denmark, lawmakers can put written questions to government members who must reply in writing. "I find it deeply regrettable that a legal medical product is used for executions," she added in her reply to the small, left-wing opposition Red-Green Alliance.
Espersen could not be reached for comment Thursday. Pentobarbital has been used to execute prisoners in Ohio, Oklahoma and Texas. Fellow U.S. states Mississippi and Arizona are also considering switching to the drug for lethal injections.
Lundbeck has written letters to U.S. prison authorities asking them not to use pentobarbital for lethal injections, but so far to no avail.
The pharmaceutical company, whose best-sellers include drugs for the treatment of psychiatric and neurological disorders, is under pressure from human rights groups to take stronger action, such as rewriting distribution contracts with clauses prohibiting sales of pentobarbital to U.S.prisons. Lundbeck has rejected that idea, saying it would be impossible for distributors to track how every vial is used. (Source: Associated Press, 12/04/2011)